Tongue Problems (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Tongue basics
- What are common tongue problems?
- What causes tongue problems?
- What are the treatments for tongue problems?
- White tongue
- Red tongue
- Black tongue
- Increased size/swelling
- Abnormalities of the tongue surface
- Tongue movement
- What are common tongue problems in infants and children?
- What are common tongue problems in pregnancy?
- How are tongue problems diagnosed?
- What is the prognosis for tongue problems?
- Can tongue problems be prevented?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What is the prognosis for tongue problems?
Fortunately, most tongue problems are benign and treatable; therefore, the prognosis is generally very good.
In regards to tumorous growth, the main concern would be oral cancer. The prognosis for oral cancer is dependent upon the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to blood vessels. Individuals with head and neck cancer such as oral cancer have an increased risk of developing a second cancer in the head and neck. Frequent follow-up and close monitoring are crucial parts of care. The prognosis for oral cancer is poor. In the U.S., approximately half of individuals newly diagnosed with oral cancer do not survive after 5 years. Despite advances in treatment with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the poor prognosis is due to the cancer being discovered at a later stage in its development.
Can tongue problems be prevented?
Some tongue problems are preventable by practicing good oral hygiene and eating a healthy, nutritious diet. Other tongue problems are the byproduct of an underlying medical condition which needs to be addressed. Once addressed, the tongue problem should resolve as well.
For oral cancer, quitting the habit of smoking and alcohol use will decrease the risk. A vaccine for HPV is being studied and it may help in guarding against oral cancers as well. Oral cancer screenings should take place during routine dental visits. Screenings can also take place with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician.
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